Calls for Papers

Unnamed and Uncredited: Anonymous Figures in the Biblical World

By 20th May 2021 No Comments

Call for Papers

Guest Editors Susannah Rees and Ellena Lyell

Biblical texts privilege certain voices, such as those of the political elite, and obscures others, such as those of women and workers. This omission of the names of many figures who do not conform to the ideal, high-status male is also found in midrashic literature and the Pseudepigrapha. Names are imbued with great significance and are integral to an individual’s personal identity; thus namelessness is an interpretative strategy. Scholars are often compelled to give names and titles to otherwise unnamed characters, which, in turn, inevitably shapes the ways in which these characters are read.

This special issue seeks to redress these imbalances by inviting contributions on the anonymous history of unnamed biblical figures. We invite submissions that rediscover these voices which are overlooked and marginalised in the narrative. Contributions which explore the identities and significance of otherwise anonymous figures, including those outside a gender binary, and studies which approach the Bible from an intersectional perspective or engage with feminist theory, Queer theory or post-colonial theory are particularly welcome.

Topics could include (but are not limited to):

  • Interdisciplinary studies which leverage archaeological, inscriptional and socio-scientific evidence to rediscover the anonymous history of the everyday life of individuals whose names are not recorded by history.
  • Unnamed characters: for example, Queen of Sheba, woman of Endor, the lovers in the Song of Songs, the Queen of Heaven, Babylon, the Woman Clothed in the Sun, the women around Jesus, the Samaritan woman.
  • Literary personifications such as Woman Strange, Woman Wisdom, the Suffering Servant, the Daughters of Zion, among others.
  • Women who are only identified in relation to male relatives such as the wives of Noah, Ham, Lot, Potiphar, Moses, Pontius Pilate; the daughters of Pharaoh, Jephthah, Philip; the mothers of Samson, David, Haman, Lemuel, Rufus; the Levite’s concubine.
  • Those known only by their profession or function: for example, eunuchs, servants, armour-bearers and messengers, centurions, thieves, even corpses.
  • The reception of anonymous figures and the addition of names in later texts and traditions, for example, Noah’s wife becomes “Emzara” in the Book of Jubilees and “Naamah” in Genesis Rabbah, as well as individuals who remain unnamed in midrashic literature and the Pseudepigrapha. 

We welcome articles of 6000-8000 words including references. We also welcome short notes of 1000-5000 words including references for briefer discussions. Article submissions should be anonymised to remove identifying statements or references. Please follow SBL Handbook of Style formatting using footnotes and bibliography. Images used should be open access or Creative Commons licensed. 

Please submit all completed manuscripts as both .docx and .pdf. as an attachment to this form by Monday 20th December 2021. All inquiries should be addressed to the Guest Editors, Susannah Rees ( and Ellena Lyell (

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